Sometimes I watch Nicholas Cage in films and wonder if he is really acting. The crazed looks, the wild hair, the erratic actions—are these merely components of a true method actor’s repertoire, or has Cage gone off the deep end? When I really think about it, I like to imagine a Tropic Thunder-esque scenario where the crew is in on it, but the actors (or actor in this case) believes that what is happening is real. This not only makes many films immensely more enjoyable, but does a lot to explain certain hair and wardrobe choices. A lot.
Cage and his hair star in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a story seeped in magic spells, with a heavy dose of special effects and a pinch of uncomfortable jokes. Cage plays Balthazar Blake, a student of the great Merlin, and a man who has been in search of the one person who can defeat the evil Morgana (with a name like that, isn’t she destined to become an evil sorceress?). Cleverly, he trapped Morgana in a Russian nesting doll (along with several of her followers) for centuries until the one true hero is found. Balthazar clearly had a sense of drama and plot as each level of the doll contained a different magical enemy and challenge—until the finale with the “boss level” and the evil witch.
Now here is where it’s kind of a good news/bad news type of a situation. The good news? Balthazar finds the powerful sorcerer in modern day New York. The bad news? It’s Jay Baruchel…well, “Dave” (a name that strikes fear into the heart of all evil), played by Baruchel. On their heels is the nefarious Maxim (no, not the men’s magazine; though that would have been an interesting plot twist) played by Alfred Molina. What the audience is left with is a magical pissing contest. But it is actually pretty fun.
Yeah, you read that right. I found this movie surprisingly enjoyable. While the plot is far-fetched, somehow it was more believable than other Turteltaub-Cage collaborations. Yes, I am talking to you, National Treasure franchise. While I am willing to believe that a magical showdown happens in NYC, I apparently draw the line at our founding fathers constructing a huge underground hidey-hole entirely out of toothpicks, chewing gum, and damp straw in order to conceal treasure (say what?). Also, I wasn’t a fan of the actress in the National Treasure films—she apparently couldn’t decide between an American and a German accent. How was it possible that she was the best choice for the job? Sigh. But I digress.
Although I found some of the dialogue stilted, and several of the jokes Reba-funny at best; the plot delivered what it promised—crazy, over-the-top fun. I can best describe The Sorcerer’s Apprentice as the illegitimate lovechild of the Harry Potter films and Batman (but not the George Clooney one. Never the Clooney one). I know the HP connection is pretty obvious (as both deal with magic and have a lot of adolescent awkwardness), but the Batman connection may see a little bit of a stretch. However, there is a crapload of flying off the tops of buildings in a major metropolis and Balthazar’s coat is a little cape-like. Plus, Cage was Big Daddy in Kick Ass, and I seem to have a difficult time erasing the image of him in a Batman mask from my mind. Stupid iconography.
I should probably divulge at this point that my husband worked on the development end of the special effects in the film. Therefore, I am most likely biased (although I wouldn’t be afraid to say if I thought something he worked on looked weird). All this aside, I really thought the effects in the film were very well done Quality work. Damn, it’s most likely best if I leave it at that and let people draw their own conclusions. I don’t want to destroy the last bit of credibility I have. I imagine that it took a big hit when I said I liked the movie in the first place.
When I watch a film, sometimes I have high expectations; and when it falls short, I become really disappointed. For The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, however, I had pretty low expectations. Although the trailer looked cool, I was leery to see a full length feature based on a short from a Disney cartoon made in 1940. It just seemed a bit odd. But my expectations were surpassed. I had fun with the film. I liked that Cage was kind of wild-eyed and crazy, that Baruchel was uncomfortably heroic, and that Molina practically slithered into all of his scenes. It’s a silly fun blockbuster. Period. End of story. It’s crossed off the list.
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